[b-hebrew] Year 14

JimStinehart at aol.com JimStinehart at aol.com
Fri Oct 23 10:39:08 EDT 2009

Joel Salomon:
1.  You wrote:  “Note that none of the numbers have the definite “ה” 
before them in the
 Hebrew; the articles in “the thirteenth year” & “the fourteenth year” 
are artifacts of translation.”
I specifically stated that in my prior post.  I also noted that the word “in
” does not appear in the Hebrew text either, regarding the 13th year.  Out 
of context, the Hebrew could be read as meaning (i) “thirteenth year” or 
(ii) “13 year” or (iii) “13 years”.
As to the reference to the 14th year, the word “in” is there, but no word “
the”.  So out of context, the three possible meanings are (i) “in 
fourteenth year” or (ii) “in 14 year” or (iii) “in 14 years”.
So I believe that to this point, we may all agree as to what the Hebrew 
text literally says.
2.  You wrote:  “(There is therefore a possible rendering of verse 3, “… 
and thirteen years they rebelled”.)”
In context, that is a very unlikely interpretation.  More likely is my view 
that “13 year” means “Year 13”, and “in 14 year” means “in Year 14”.  I 
see no linguistic stretching at all on my part here.
3.  You wrote:  “What calendar is this “Year 14” that you speak of?”
The Egyptian pharaohs kept track of time in this way.  The first year of 
the reign of Akhenaten (Egypt’s only monotheistic pharaoh) was his “Year 1”.  
The last year of Akhenaten’s reign was “Year 17”.  (In the Patriarchal 
narratives, the first historical monotheistic leader of a people is accurately 
stated, based on the secular history of the Late Bronze Age, to reign in 
Egypt for 17 years.  Genesis 47: 28)
Of critical importance to our discussion, the Egyptian hieratic docket (in 
Egyptian) on Amarna Letter EA 27 says:
“Year 12, first month of winter,…copy of the Naharin letter….”
Amarna Letters EA 27, EA 28 and EA 29 are the last three letters from 
Akhenaten’s irate father-in-law from Naharim (on the upper Euphrates River).  
After that, Akhenaten’s Egypt and Naharim never spoke, as Akhenaten rudely cut 
off all relations with Naharim.  Given the long travel times, it is probably 
about Year 12, 7th month that the former anti-Hittite great power allies, 
Egypt and Naharim, were no longer on speaking terms.
Thus it makes sense that the following year, being Year 13 of Akhenaten’s 
reign, five anti-Hittite princelings in western Syria would decide to form 
their own anti-Hittite league, to protect themselves against the Hittites’ 
attempts to muscle in on Syria from the north.  Amarna Letters EA 53 and EA 56, 
which likely date to Year 13, evidence the formation of this 
five-princeling anti-Hittite league.
The following year, that is, Year 14 of Akhenaten’s 17-year reign, the 
Hittites and three regional allies, making a total of four attacking rulers, 
destroyed that league of five anti-Hittite princelings.  This can be seen in 
the following Amarna Letters, which likely date to Year 14:  EA 174-176, EA 
55, EA 59, EA 161, and Akhenaten’s own famous Amarna Letter, which decries the 
iniquity of the Amorites (just like Genesis 15: 16):  EA 162.
[I must apologize here for a mistake I made in yesterday’s post.  The 
number 14 is in fact used at one other place in the Patriarchal narratives:  at 
Genesis 31: 41.  Note, however, that the number 14 seems positive there, as 
Jacob tells Laban:  “I served thee fourteen years for thy two daughters….”  
If the “four kings against the five” is a “myth”, it seems odd that the 
number 14 would be chosen for the terrible military onslaught reported in 
chapter 14 of Genesis.  Instead of seeming “mythical”, the phrase “in 14 year” 
sounds historical, referencing Year 14 in secular history.]
4.  You wrote:  “I can buy that. Except that lacking mention of this war 
external to the
 Bible (as <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Vale_of_Siddim>
 implies) we can’t use this to date anything.  I don’t get what point you’
re trying to make.”
The sudden Hittite conquest of Syria in Year 14 is one of the 
best-documented military operations in the ancient world.  In particular, thanks to the 
Amarna Letters, we can determine the likely exact dating of the key events.  
For the first 12 years of Akhenaten’s reign, there were no foreign policy 
disasters (though there were plenty of warning signs of Hittite adventurism).  
Then in Year 13, a league of five anti-Hittite princelings formed in 
western Syria.  Their first action, oddly enough, was to carry out a series of 
raids on Ugarit, whose ruler bore the kingly title MLK (LM, which is identical 
in defective spelling to the kingly title of “Chedorlaomer”, whose name is 
a nasty Hebrew nickname comprised of three Ugaritic words (which are also 
words in Hebrew):  KDR + L + (MR.  Then in Year 14, the Hittites under mighty 
Hittite King Suppiluliuma I (referred to as “Tidal” at Genesis 14: 1, 9, a 
nasty Hebrew nickname referencing that he had murdered his older brother 
named “Tidal”/Tudhaliya to seize the Hittite throne), along with three 
regional allies, destroyed that league of five anti-Hittite princelings, and Syria 
became part of the newly formed Hittite Empire.  The four attacking rulers 
have the same unique ethnicities in the Bible as in secular history:  one 
from Ugarit, one Hittite, one Amorite, and one Hurrian.
If you want to talk about the Biblical reference to the “Vale of Siddim”, 
that is getting us into another discussion, being a matter which has been 
discussed before on this forum, along with related issues of Biblical 
geography.  Perhaps of greater importance than identifying the “Valley of Fields” 
is the fact that I disagree with Professor Yigal Levin’s published article as 
to the identity of QD$ at Genesis 14: 7.  If Prof. Levin is right that the 
QD$ referenced at Genesis 14: 7 is located in the Northern Negev Desert, 60 
miles south of Gaza, then the geography of Genesis 14: 7 is nonsensical in 
all regards.  By contrast, if the QD$ at Genesis 14: 7 is historical QD$, 
that is, Qadesh of Upper Galilee, then the entire geography of Genesis 14: 7 
makes perfect sense, in a Late Bronze Age historical context.  Prior to the 
common era, no place with the attested name of QD$ or Kadesh-barnea located in 
or near the Northern Negev Desert exists in secular history, whereas Qadesh 
of Upper Galilee is attested by the name QD$ in the mid-15th century BCE 
Thutmose III list, the mid-14th century BCE Amarna Letters, and in Ugaritic 
literature from the Late Bronze Age.  It is hard to see how even a “myth” 
would portray four invading rulers from the north as rousting about in the 
Northern Negev Desert, 60 miles south of Gaza, where not only was there nothing 
to loot, but powerful Egypt was obviously nearby.  In a somewhat similar 
vein, I believe that all university professors teach their students that the 
attacking ruler with the title MLK (LM is from east of Babylon, even though no 
ruler east of Babylon ever had such a kingly title, and that kingly title 
(in defective spelling) is a 6-letter-for-6-letter exact match to the kingly 
title uniquely held by the rulers of Ugarit (located just northwest of 
Canaan, on the west coast of Syria).  As to the likelihood of a ruler from east 
of Babylon named Chedorlaomer coming to the Northern Negev Desert to 
discipline some wayward Canaanite princelings (the scholarly view of the “four kings 
against the five” as a myth), here is what the Anchor Bible Dictionary has 
to say at Vol. I, p. 893:  “[N]o king of Elam named Kutir/Kudur-Lagamar is 
attested, nor is there the slightest evidence of Elamite political or 
military engagement in Palestine at any time in history.”  We begin to realize that 
there is  n-o-t-h-i-n-g  in the secular history of the ancient world to 
back up the scholarly view of the identity of either (i) QD$ at Genesis 14: 7, 
or (ii) MLK (LM as a kingly title at Genesis 14: 1, 9. 
I personally don’t object, not in the slightest, when you try to attack my 
view of the case by referencing basic facts of the secular history of the 
ancient near east.  But I want to point out that there is  n-o-t-h-i-n-g  in 
the secular history of the ancient near east to back up many of the key 
points that underlie the scholarly analysis of Genesis 14: 1-11.   N-o-t-h-i-n-g. 
 People can criticize me for not accepting the medieval pointing that was 
done in the Middle Ages of QD$ (reflecting Ezra’s deliberate 
misinterpretation of QD$ at Genesis 20: 1, done to fool the Persians), and for relying on 
the presumed defective spelling of MLK (LM to get an exact letter-for-letter 
match to the historical kingly title of rulers of Ugarit.  Fine and good.  
Yet no one ever mentions that there is  n-o-t-h-i-n-g  in the secular history 
of the ancient near east, prior to the common era, that supports the 
scholarly view of the identity of QD$ at Genesis 14: 7, or MLK (LM as a kingly 
title.  N-o-t-h-i-n-g.
But if you’re really interested in the Valley of Siddim, I can post five 
Amarna Letters from defeated princelings in the northern “Valley of Siddim” 
tomorrow, all dating to Year 14.  Joel, regardless of what Wikipedia may say, 
you yourself know that there are two places in Canaan or greater Canaan 
that perfectly fit the Biblical description “valley of fields”.  As to the 
northern “valley of fields”, here’s a huge hint.  The Hebrew word for “valley”
 in “valley of siddim/fields” is (MQ, and the word for the Bekka Valley in 
the Amarna Letters is Amqu or Amqi (where the final letter is a pre-12th 
century BCE case ending, so the Late Bronze Age name is essentially Amq).
5.  On this thread, the “new news” is that the Biblical references to “13 
year” and “in 14 year” may be historical references to “Year 13” and “
Year 14”.  Both in the Bible and in the Late Bronze Age, it was in Year 13 that 
an anti-Hittite league of five princelings formed, and it was in Year 14 
that four attacking rulers absolutely demolished that league.  The match as to 
the dating seems perfect, as far as I can tell.
Akhenaten was not a strong pharaoh militarily, and just over a year ago he 
had improvidently cut off all relations with the anti-Hittite great power 
Naharim.  Now the Hittites were on the march!  It seemed a perilous time for 
the tent-dwelling first Hebrews in Canaan.  Scholars are blinded by 20/20 
hindsight.  Scholars know that in fact, the Hittites never marched father south 
than northern Lebanon (the Amorite state of Amurru, whose selling out to 
the dreaded Hittites -- begun in Year 14 and completed in Year 16 -- is the 
historical “iniquity of the Amorites”).  But the Hebrews didn’t know that 
then!  The Hebrews fervently prayed to YHWH to save them from the seemingly 
unstoppable Hittite war machine.  And the Hebrews’ prayers were answered.  The 
Hittites never invaded Canaan proper.  In my controversial view, that is the 
historical foundation of Judaism.  In the mid-14th century BCE, the Hebrews 
prayed to YHWH to not let the Hittites invade Canaan, and the Hittites 
indeed never invaded Canaan.  Akhenaten had relatively little to do with it, 
except that he was very weak militarily as a pharaoh, which made the Hittite 
threat so very ominous.  
Professors teach their students that Genesis 14: 1-11 is a non-historical 
myth.  But it’s no myth!  In fact, five princelings did form an anti-Hittite 
league in Year 13, just as the Bible says, and four attacking rulers in fact 
did destroy those princelings in Year 14, just as the Bible says.  The 
Bible also has the precise ethnic identities of all four attacking rulers just 
right.  And the Bible even knows that the first historical monotheistic 
leader of a people broke off all relations with his father-in-law from Naharim, 
with the last straw being certain statues that the monotheistic son-in-law 
never delivered to his irate father-in-law from the far-off upper Euphrates 
River (Genesis 31: 30-38, comparable to Amarna Letters EA 27-29 referenced 
above).  This is not a “myth”!  No, this is pinpoint accurate historical 
information from the Late Bronze Age.
On this thread, I am asking people on the b-hebrew list to focus on the 
numbers here.  After (i) 12 years of peace, (ii) in Year 13 (iii) 5 princelings 
formed an anti-Hittite league, but then (iv) in Year 14, (v) 4 attacking 
rulers utterly destroyed those 5 princelings.  Note that  e-v-e-r-y  one of 
those five numbers in the “four kings against the five” has pinpoint accuracy 
in the secular historical context of the Late Bronze Age.  That’s the 
hallmark of a mid-14th century BCE composition by the first Hebrew, who knew what 
he was talking about, not a non-historical “myth” ginned up centuries 
later by multiple authors, none of whom knew what they were talking about, as 
scholars would have it.
Jim Stinehart
Evanston, Illinois

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